It’s May 4 once again (the day on which the Dutch commemorate their war dead). People come together around the three pink granite triangles that form the Homomonument behind the Westerkerk in Amsterdam, where at 8.00 p.m. a two-minute silence will descend around the Gay Monument.
That all these people, some of whom return every year, choose to be there is a conscious choice. A choice of “Choosing in Freedom.” That is the national theme of the National May 4 and 5 Committee for 2019.
Homosexuality and the Armed Forces
As the committee responsible for the yearly preparations we not only have to take into consideration which guest speakers to invite, but we also have to make the sometimes difficult choice of which musical contribution to make between guest speakers.
Sandra Keijzer, colonel with the Royal Military Police and Vice Chairperson for the Foundation for Homosexuality and the Armed Forces will follow up on this year’s theme by placing emphasis on looking towards the future, because within the Armed Forces there are also choices to be made.
Sandra Keijzer: “Although in comparison with other countries we are extremely tolerant, we still have a way to go. Our last survey showed that there is still a battle to be won in regard to the acceptance of GLBT+ staff within the Armed Forces.”
The Amsterdam May 4 and 5 Committee follows with great interest the programming at the Homomonument for the GLBT+ community in the city and for those who come from elsewhere. Their Chairman, Job Cohen (former mayor of Amsterdam) will on that evening, as one of the guest speakers, make a contribution.
In 2015, Daan Smeelen, representing the Homomonument Foundation, and Menne Vellinga, in the capacity as Master of Ceremonies, were presented with a Memorial Album about the yearly commemoration in Amsterdam; a token of appreciation for everything that is organized on the fourth and fifth of May at the Monument of Pride!
To ensure that young people also remain involved in the Commemoration, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) has this year been invited to make a contribution by presenting a relevant poem. Students make sure that their school is a safe place for everyone! Among other things, the GSA organizes Purple Friday where schools show their support for gender and sexual diversity.
The Fourth of May Wreaths
Last year, just in the nick of time, a request was submitted for a song by Huib Afman entitled the “De kransen van 4 mei” (The Fourth of May Wreaths) to be performed during the ceremony. Wesley Pierik composed the music. A text specifically written for this day of remembrance and commemoration. This year the song will be performed during the ceremony by Lotte Horlings. She will also sing the first verse of the Dutch National Anthem to the accompaniment of the Brass Band of the Regiment Fanfare Garde Grenadiers en Jagers.
The thirty or more expected flower arrangements will be delivered to the Westerkerk during the course of the day. Half of the interior of the church is currently covered in scaffolding. This year, the flower arrangements will be carried to the Homomonument during the Silent March from the Keizersgracht entrance of the church. The March will leave the Prinsengracht at 7.00 p.m. and pass by the Anne Frank House, through the Leliegracht to the Herengracht, following the Raadhuisstraat and crossing the Niek Engelschman Bridge to finally arrive at the Homomonument.
As is customary, once the speeches have been concluded, a wreath will be laid on behalf of the Mayor and Aldermen of Amsterdam. New groups joining the ceremony have said that they would also like to leave a floral tribute on the stepped triangle at the Keizergracht.
An informal get-together is not possible this year in the church. An alternative venue may be announced after the ceremony.
Summarized Program overview
* 7.30 p.m.: Silent March, assemble in front of tower entrance to Westerkerk on the Prinsengracht.
* 7.55 p.m.: Welcome to the Homomonument
* 8.00 p.m.: Two minutes of silence followed by the Dutch National Anthem, three speakers and performers. Wreath laying and final march by.
The May 4 Homomonument Committee is represented by: COC Amsterdam, Pink in Blue, Foundation for Homosexuality and the Armed Forces, Foundation Homomonument and MVS GAYstation. General and technical support will be provided by: Lloyd Hotel, PinkPoint and the Westerkerk.